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Belfast's first Poetry Jukebox to be launched next month


Deirdre Cartmill and Maria McManus

Deirdre Cartmill and Maria McManus

Deirdre Cartmill and Maria McManus

An initiative to bring new poetry to Northern Ireland will launch next month as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival.

Poetry Jukebox will be a permanent installation which will play host to 20 original poems from a variety of writers living in Ireland, allowing listeners to hear the recordings by simply pushing a button.

The first feature of its kind in the city, it was developed by the Belfast International Arts Festival Artists in Residence, Deirdre Cartmill and Maria McManus.

The jukebox will open at the Crescent Arts Centre on October 12.

Poet and writer Deirdre Cartmill said she is excited to be bringing the project to the streets of Belfast.

She added: “Poetry Jukebox creatively puts literature, in public space. Words have power: words change lives. Quiet words are drowned out, silenced and are often unspoken. We create evocative, engaging, artistic interventions to 'change the message' in public spaces - an alternative to sectarian, racist, sexist and homophobic words.”

Working with Deirdre, fellow poet and writer Maria McManus explained the passion and reason behind this project.

She said: “We want to open minds and hearts with the power and intensity and gentleness of poetry.  The things that are currently unspeakable or unspoken in public spaces are gentle, they are loving, they are beautiful, profound and life-affirming. The things that are most loudly spoken are often messages of hate, racism, bigotry, separation and despondency.

"We want to change this by bringing literature, primarily poetry to people where they are, out on the streets, so we can, as Heaney said, 'catch the heart off guard, and blow it open'.”

Belfast International Arts Festival Director, Richard Wakely, added: “The Poetry Jukebox will connect with listeners in a gentle but deeply effective way and telling them they can change.

"Deirdre and Maria are challenging 'what is', to inspire people to live to the better side of themselves.  The Belfast International Arts Festival is incredibly proud to be associated with this amazing initiative, making poetry more accessible to both local people and visitors to the city.”

  • The Belfast International Arts Festival will run from October 6 - 28.

Belfast Telegraph